SANTA FE, N.M. (CBS4) — New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday announced the Supporting Teachers and Families (STAF), an initiative to provide critical support for New Mexico’s schools and child care facilities, which, like those in the rest of the nation, are facing extreme staffing shortages due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The initiative encourages state workers and National Guard members to volunteer to become licensed as substitute pre-K-12 teachers and/or child care workers and work where they are needed to keep doors open for in-person learning and child care.
All volunteers must fulfill the same requirements as regular substitute teachers and child care workers, including undergoing a background check and completing an online substitute teaching workshop through PED for individuals applying to work in schools.
The state will also ensure that the needs of schools and the state are balanced to ensure that state services are not affected by this effort.
Our schools are a critical source of stability for our kids – we know they learn better in the classroom and thrive among their peers,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “Our kids, our teachers and our parents deserve as much stability as we can provide during this time of uncertainty, and the state stands ready to help keep kids in the classroom, parents able to go to work and teachers able to fully focus on the critical work they do every single day in educating the next generation.
By bringing multiple agencies and school districts together to facilitate the licensure processes for substitute teachers and child care workers, the initiative will allow state workers to use administrative leave to work in schools and child care programs with staffing shortages.
The additional staffing will allow schools to avoid the disruptive process of switching between remote and in-person learning and prevent child care programs from having to shut down altogether.
Currently, many schools are being forced to shift to online learning and child care facilities are being forced to temporarily close when staff members test positive for COVID-19 or are identified as close contacts and must isolate or quarantine for 5 days.
The goal of the state’s effort is to ensure these establishments have the staffing resources to temporarily fill in during these gaps. Since winter break, around 60 school districts and charter schools have moved into remote learning. Since the beginning of the year, 75 child care centers have partially or completely closed due to staffing shortages.
The state sent a letter today asking for volunteers from state agencies and the New Mexico National Guard. The Public Education Department is allocating additional resources and working with districts and charter schools to streamline their licensure processes.
The Early Childhood Education and Care Department has set up an online application for individuals interested in providing substitute support in child-care programs.
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